We can "get" something and we can "take" something. They have very different meanings, don't they? To "get" something does not always mean we put it to use in our lives - we just "possess" it as ours, but it may not have an impact on our lives. To "take" something implies we intend to put it into use. When we "take" a piece of bread from the plate, we likely are more apt to use it to sop up the gravy on our plate than when we just have it casually placed on a dish next to our dinner plate. To "take" good counsel and accept correction means we actually do something with what we receive in the way of counsel and apply the corrective measures to ensure the outcome of our plans is different than it would have been without the counsel or correction. When we get something, we are being affected by it - it changes us in some way. This is what God had in mind when he instructed us to live wisely and well by taking the good counsel he provides and then accepting the necessary course corrections which may also be required. The "course corrections" are not optional, as some may think - they are required.
Take good counsel and accept correction—that’s the way to live wisely and well. We humans keep brainstorming options and plans, but God’s purpose prevails. Fear-of-God is life itself, a full life, and serene—no nasty surprises. If you quit listening, dear child, and strike off on your own, you’ll soon be out of your depth. (Proverbs 19:20-21, 23, 27 MSG)
We often choose to live outside of the good counsel of God, don't we? It is like we consider our options and then choose to pick the one which sometimes doesn't make the most sense, but it appealed to us the most. We must never be fooled by our own foolishness - God's good counsel will prevail! We may deviate for a season, but he keeps plugging away at us until we sit still long enough to realize the counsel we did not heed was the very counsel we need to return to. We might just recognize we are living outside of this good counsel of God by the way we are bucking him at every turn - his counsel is hard to escape - it is almost like it pursues us even when we are going down the wrong path!
There are a couple of things I'd like us to consider as we take up this topic of God's counsel:
- It always aligns with the Word of God. Any counsel we may receive can be "checked" against the Word. If the Word of God doesn't clearly speak to the specific thing we are seeking wisdom about, we must rely upon the principles taught within scripture. For example, the Word of God may not direct us to the specific way to invest our money, but it give us repeated advice and instruction how it is we are to treat our money - not as something to be squirreled away, but used in meeting the needs of those around us, furthering the gospel message, etc. So, if we apply the principles taught, we should be okay in investing it in our 401K, Roth IRA, or a block of stocks on the market.
- The counsel of God is not self-centered. In other words, it will not "feed" or "foster" the advancement of things which "fluff our ego". God's counsel calls for us to no longer be "ego-centric", but to consider others above ourselves. Any counsel which we may embrace to the contrary will always lead us down the wrong path.
- The counsel you embrace will always lead to a right respect for his authority in your life. There is no greater authority - any counsel which diminishes or calls into question his authority is not godly wisdom or counsel. It should not be heeded.
A right respect for the counsel of God will result in a right respect for his authority in your life. As a result, there will be a willingness to live within the boundaries he establishes instead of always trying to buck them. As I have often said, to stay within the boundaries he established through his good counsel is to live within the borders of safety and freedom. To push against those boundaries is to cross over into territory where our safety cannot be assured and our freedom is called into question. The counsel of God is available to all who will ask - we just need to be open to what we receive in return.
Here is where the rub comes - the willingness to actually "take" the counsel and use it as we should. Quit listening and you will surely strike out on your own - leading you into depths you have not chartered before and were never intended to explore in the first place! I've gone there myself on an occasion or two, and it is not a very pleasant experience. The "depths" of what awaits me pulls me in over my head faster than I could have ever imagined. The only way to avoid such pitfalls is to stay the course within the boundaries of his good counsel.
Take vs. get - one receives so as to put it into use, while the other just toys with it. How are you handling the good counsel of God in your life today? If you have been "toying with it", maybe it is time to stop all the "toying" and start checking it out a little more intently. Just sayin!